Category Archives: France

ENTER VIA THE GIFT SHOP – St Paul de Vence

The Grand Fountain.

The Grand Fountain.

It’s always nice when Fairfax media publishes my work in the ‘Traveller’ section of the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age. It means I can then release the full story on this blog…

The artists came to Saint-Paul-de-Vence because it was beautiful, quiet and cheap. The dealers moved in to hang out with the artists and buy their work. Their galleries attracted the tourists and smart restaurants replaced the artists’ smoky cafes and bars. The artists passed away or drifted away to find somewhere quieter and cheaper. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, France

TEN REASONS TO LOVE THE FRENCH ALPS

The scenery is a knockout.

The scenery is a knockout.

I think I’ve now spent more time walking in the French Alps than any other place in the world, even including the hiking I’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s leg was six days hiking the GR5 and its variants between St Paul sur l’Ubaye and St Martin de Vesubie.

It’s still an annual highlight of my life to spend a week in the mountains with my Dutch friends.

Here’s why I keep going back there: Continue reading

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Filed under France, Hiking

SHOOTING FRENCH ALLEYWAYS – my photography tips

TIP #1 - Colour above, and something happening below.

TIP: Colour above, and something going on below. Location: Nice (well, of course it’s a nice location. I mean the city, Nice.)


I’ve turned the camera vertically to take shots of narrow French alleyways so often during the past couple of weeks I’ve almost become an expert.

When the subject matter is so inherently appealing it’s hard to screw up, though, like most amateurs, I usually manage to do just that. Too dark, too bright, too much contrast, moving people blurring the shot, being too slow to catch the hilarious peeing dog…I made all those mistakes, often.

Every now and then I got a photo I liked. Continue reading

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Filed under France, travel photography

IT’S ALL DONE WITH MIRRORS – Marseilles

Norman Foster's mirror

Norman Foster’s Ombriere. You’re almost under it before you notice it.




After nine months of construction, re-routing of traffic and a rumoured EUR45 million bill, visitors to Marseilles’ Vieux Port can now photograph themselves upside down.

Norman Foster’s Ombriere, a huge flat mirror supported on poles above the terrace in front of the Vieux Port, reflects the colourful fishing boats, the buses, the beggars and hawkers, the school excursions, the petit trains and the visitors who cluster in this hub of Marseillaise tourist life.

I hope this mirror thing doesn’t become a cliche, like the giant ferris wheels sprouting on groovy, go-ahead, ‘wow, look at us!’ city skylines. Continue reading

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SOMETHING’S FISHY IN THE CITY OF CULTURE

Oooh, yucky!

Oooh, yucky!

Marseilles is having trouble in its role as Capitale Europeenne de la Culture 2013.

We get our first sense of this when we call in at the Office de Tourisme and ask for our City Pass Marseille. It’s a museum and public transport card that, according to the website, “…makes it easy for first time visitors by identifying the best things to do in the city and permits to save (sic) money and time.”

Except today, ‘Sorry, Sir, our printer is not working so we cannot make the cards.’ Continue reading

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THE TROUBLE WE GO TO FOR ART!

It wasn't easy to get here.

It wasn’t easy to get here, so you might at least look pleased to see us!

“Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur? What do you mean, ‘Complet’? It’s taken us an hour to find the bus stop and another 45 minutes to wait for your bus to come along and now you’re saying you’re full?

How are we supposed to get to Saint-Paul if every bloody bus…Ok, d’accord, Monsieur, you only drive the damn thing. Nice beard, by the way.”

We know there often isn’t a lot of public transport into walled mediaeval villages perched on Provencal hilltops. But Saint-Paul-de-Vence isn’t just any mediaeval village. It’s now a tourist mecca, thanks to the artists, past and present, who have lived and worked there. A lot of us want to see it. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Belgium, France